On Tuesday's post about language and elders, Mary Jamison left this comment:
“While we're at it, what about the advertising?! I don't mind that I get targeted for anti-wrinkle cream and various health care devices as much as I mind how bad the ads are: boring and uninventive.”
Mary is right. Whether television commercials or print ads, the concepts and production values are awful. Unlike Mary, however, I object mainly because they perpetuate the cultural imperative to appear young until the day we die. They say to everyone that youth is the gold standard of life and that aging is unacceptable.
The company that produces whatever this product is has been spending a lot of money for online ads recently. It turns up on almost every email newsletter I get and news website I read:
In addition to being repellent for its message, the ad is a fraud. At first glance, it looks like the lighting is harsher in the “before” photo and the “after” photo has been shot in soft focus. Look again and you can see they are the same photograph; the "after" image has been Photoshopped.
Companies - especially wrinkle cream companies - are so confident people will spend money to look young, they don't even bother with a real testimonial. And as the ad is bogus, it follows that the product is.
More than the obviously fraudulent, however, I object to the focus of all advertising targeting elders for the near one hundred percent concentration on disability and ill health (of which, apparently, wrinkles and sags are included): arthritis, osteoporosis, medical alert systems, scooters, life insurance all feature old people, usually only old people. No wonder everyone believes that to get old is to be sick.
Some old people need these products. So do some young people. The person I see regularly on a scooter in my neighborhood is about 30.
But the greater disservice, I think, is that old people are missing from other kinds of ads and commercials. Do advertisers think we don't buy pet food, cleaning products, breakfast cereal, cell phones, cars, airline tickets? And you'd think elders would be the obvious target for those Dr. Scholl's gel inserts for shoes.
The reason we don't see elders in any but health-related commercials, I suspect (in addition to the fact that ad agencies are staffed almost exclusively with people younger than 40), is that advertisers believe younger people won't buy products that are sold by old people. They are as much brainwashed by perpetual media age bias as they are the brainwashers.
As advertisers know better than anyone, repetition works. So when only young people are shown using the ordinary products of life and we see only old people using health-related products, what is the message? You tell me.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Linda Carmi tells us a love story, Zoya.]